Some of the US’s Largest Companies Tell Apple and Amazon to Put Planet Before Profits

Ben and Jerry’s, Danone, Patagonia and more target America’s largest companies to prioritise the environment over profits.

Apple, Amazon and more have been targeted by a campaign aiming to get some of the world’s largest companies to readdress their list of priorities and put environmental concerns atop the growing list of concerns moving into the future.

According to a report from the Guardian’s Zoe Wood, “a group of more than 30 American business leaders, including the heads of outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, The Body Shop owner Natura, Ben & Jerry’s (part of Unilever) and Danone’s US business have taken the extraordinary step of taking out a full-page ad in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times to champion a more ethical way of doing business. The advert is aimed at members of the influential Business Roundtable (BRT) lobby group, which represents 181 of the US’s biggest companies.”

The open letter states: “we are part of a community of certified B corporations who are walking the walk of stakeholder capitalism.”

“We are successful businesses that meet the highest standards of verified positive impact for our workers, customers, suppliers, communities and the environment. We operate with a better model of corporate governance - which gives us, and could give you, a way to combat short-termism and the freedom to make decisions to balance profit and purpose.”

The B Corp movement terms itself as “a global movement of people using business as a force for good.”

The letter was addressed to the Business Roundtable, which includes Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon as well as Tim Cook of Apple, and comes just days after the Business Roundtable released a statement redefining the purpose of a corporation.

We reported on the release - which you can read here which stated that corporations were no longer looking to serve shareholder profit as their sole goal. Instead, as JP Morgan Chase’s CEO, Jamie Dimon said “major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term.”

The release was no doubt timing its ad in the New York Times to get the attention of the Business Roundtable, in the possible hope that it would make an amendment to its first release and take even more considerations into account- particularly environmental ones. The timeliness was compounded by the fires in the Amazon, which has caused business and world leaders alike to contemplate supply chains involving deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, which is a vital link in the Earth's biosphere.

Andrew Kassoy, co-founder of B Lab, responsible for growing the B Corp movement said that the Business Roundtable’s statement was “a moment to celebrate.”

“It’s a significant cultural shift and represents some of the biggest multinationals in the US recognising the problem with shareholder primacy [making as much money as possible for investors]. That is not producing the right kind of economic progress or addressing inequality or climate change in the way we would like to,” he said.

Zoe Wood says that the changing “mantra of corporate America comes decades of following Nobel-prize winning economist Milton Friedman’s philosophy, which dates from 1970, that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.” Kassoy said the shift was good news, adding that “the ad is challenging [the Business Roundtable] to take action and go beyond the words in the statement.”

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